Diocese of Camden welcomes Bishop Dennis SullivanJason Laday/South Jersey Times February 12, 2013 3:03:37 PM EST
GLOUCESTER TWP. – A capacity crowd of 1,400 cheered within St. Agnes Church as they witnessed the installation of Bishop Dennis Sullivan as the spiritual leader of the approximately 475,000 Catholics within the Diocese of Camden Tuesday afternoon.
High ranking church officials from all six of New Jersey’s dioceses, as well as Catholic leaders and civic groups from across the country came to congratulate the former New York Archdiocese auxiliary bishop, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, retired New York bishop and cardinal Edward Egan, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and Newark Archbishop John Joseph Myers.
“I want to give a special welcome to Bishop Sullivan’s family and friends with us today, as well as the many who came from New York, Pennsylvania and beyond” said Myers in his greeting to the congregation, before also thanking Pope Benedict XVI, who shocked believers around the world with news of his resignation Monday, for Sullivan’s appointment.
He added, “And let us all remember our Holy Father, in the last days of his papacy.”
The installation mass began with an outdoor procession of bishops, priests, deacons and papal honorees, as well as area Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and other faith leaders, around and into St. Agnes, followed by Sullivan performing the ceremonial knock on the church door.
With Sullivan welcomed inside, a representative for Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican’s representative in the United States, read the papal bull – the formal letter from the pontiff appointing Sullivan.
Vigano had stopped by St. Agnes to greet Sullivan before the ceremony. However, he had to leave early to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. His representative, Msgr. Jean-Francois Lantheaume, oversaw the vows, officially making Sullivan the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Camden.
Sullivan replaces outgoing Camden Bishop Joseph Galante, 74, who announced his intent to resign in January 2012, citing ongoing health issues, including dialysis treatments over the last 18 months for end-stage renal failure.
In his first homily as bishop, Sullivan made reference to the diversity of his former diocese in New York.
“’Alleluia’ needs no translation, and it used to serve us well when we had Mandarin speakers, and Cantonese speakers in the congregation, and English speakers and Spanish speakers” said Sullivan. “So, on the threshold of Lent 2013, and the threshold of my ministry here, I say alleluia to the Diocese of Camden, celebrating its 75th anniversary, its diamond anniversary – this Catholic Church sparkling like a diamond across six counties of South Jersey since 1938.”
Sullivan, a 67-year-old native New Yorker, has previously stated he will bring his experience as a priest in some of the poorest areas of Manhattan and the south Bronx to the diocese containing New Jersey's most dangerous city.
Born in the Bronx, Sullivan attended Mount St. Michael Academy and later Iona College, in New Rochelle, N.Y. As a sophomore, he left Iona College and enrolled in St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.
In response to an influx of Dominican immigrants to his parish of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1971, Sullivan volunteered to study in Muca and Tenares, in the Dominican Republic, where he became fluent in Spanish.
After 21 years as pastor of the Church of St. Teresa, in Manhattan, he was appointed pastor of the Church of Sts. John and Paul, in Larchmont, N.Y., in 2004. That same year, he was made vicar general of the New York archdiocese.